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Memory Connections: A World of Joy and Wonder

29 Jun

The idea of being “from” somewhere is as familiar as breathing, but we come from more than places—we are from the sum of our experiences, from the homes we lived in, the media and culture we’re immersed in, world events, the people we meet, the sunrises and sunsets we observe, and the trees and flowers we walk among. We carry images and words from great artists and interpret their meanings in ways that resonate with who we are at our deepest cores. These writers in our Memory Connections workshop—in telling their own stories, making up stories and poems based on paintings by Monet or Hopper, and recollecting those aspects of the world that fill them with joy and wonder—reveal deep feelings of gratitude for the world we live in, the one they come from, and those they imagine.

Tracey Lander-Garrett
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

I Am From


I am from St. Louis, Missouri—baseball was the sport. My mother—who lived in Memphis, Tennessee, (200 miles from St. Louis)—watched the games on TV. The St. Louis Cardinals dominated the towns north and south of St. Louis. Baseball season is the longest of most sports, with spring training beginning March 1st and the World Series ending in October. Baseball was in our lives two-thirds of the year. Only late in the year and early the next—four months—were we without baseball.

The game is probably the most difficult to play. It requires catching, throwing, batting, running. On every pitch, the player must anticipate and respond. It’s thinking, anticipation, and reacting to the always-fluid and changing movements of the baseball as it’s thrown and hit. Even the sound of the baseball being hit by the bat gives some important information to be processed by your vision and hearing to determine how far the baseball will fly.

Edward Shelby

What a Day

—Inspired by Claude Monet’s painting “Entretat Rough Sea”


What a day, the ocean is wild.
The fishermen are trying to decide
if they can take their boats out to sea.
They watch the ocean water hit hard
against the high rock walls. They look
through the open space in the rocks.
They see only the same waves
that are in front of them.
They look at their boats. They see
that they are old. They question
if the sails can be put in place.
Again, they have concern about whether
they will be safe if they take the boats
into the dangerous waters.
They decide not to put the boats
into the water. Better to be safe
than sorry.

Jerry Miller

El Paso (The Pass)


Where I grew up, we did not have trees or grass, other than what was planted in people’s yards. But the sunsets over the mountains are always beautiful. I miss those sunsets. They are like rainbows—always a lot of color and shades. There is so much in the rocky mountains that run through El Paso (The Pass). They are large and majestic. When the sun sets, it’s a wonderful sight—the blending of colors: red, purple, yellow on a bright blue sky—one of my favorite sights.

Pat Joyce

The Black Trains

—Inspired by Claude Monet’s painting “The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train”


I see the black trains coming and going.
I can see people working and going places.
There is a lot of steam from one of the trains.
There are a few trees on the left. It seems
fairly arid where the trains are.
The train track in the middle seems to snake out.
Two lanterns hang down from the trees on the left side.
I wish I were going on a train ride at this moment in time.
This train also seems to have two yellow lights in front.
One sits slightly above the other.

Heather de Loyo

I Grew Up


I grew up in Sherman, Texas. I was born in Sherman and had sisters older and younger. My oldest sister would go to the Canteen with her friends to entertain the soldiers. My mother and dad let my sister and her friend bring several of the soldiers to our house to dance and eat.

Mother let us watch their dancing, and some of the soldiers would pick me and my sisters up and dance with us. That’s when I learned to dance. I have loved dance ever since.

As I grew older, I always remembered how much fun the boys had with us. So many of them later went overseas. We never saw them again.

At the time, I didn’t realize what they were there for. And as I got older, I remember all those boys fighting in the war. I know some didn’t come home.

Mary Russell

Spectacular Sunsets

Down By the River

If I were to pick a season that brought spectacular sunsets, it would be fall—along the coastal area of Southern California. The east winds, which lasted three to five days, blew in from the desert regions, hot and dry. The humidity was near zero—claiming victims of dust and pollen. But then came sunset: the most beautiful slow-motion picture. You gazed across the channel, some twenty miles away where the island of Santa Cruz lay. It is there where the sun dips into the ocean, causing the island to turn a deep purple-blue silhouette against the sky. That sky becomes a backdrop of brilliant yellow-orange—then, with time, as the sun sinks further down, it fades into pastels. So the blue of the sky fades into dusk, then night: out come the evening stars. And in turn, as the sky darkens to a deep blue, all the stars and some planets make their evening vigil—making each evening breathtaking, awe-inspiring.

Helen Haynes

The Great Artist


I am touched by the sunrise and the sunset
at the beginning and end of the day.
The colors are brilliant and the clouds
are magnificent. There is an artistry
that can only be seen as divine, transcendent.
I imagine myself in the Space Station,
overwhelmed by the beauty that seems endless.
A multicolored sky: red, blue, white—
clouds are endless, and appear
to be painted by the Great Artist in the sky.
I love walking through fields of flowers:
bluebonnets, daisies, roses.
Skies, horizon, greens of the trees.
There is a freshness
in the late spring in this part of Texas,
birds singing in the evening.
I recall the words of E.E. Cummings:

i thank you God for this most amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes

Paul Visokay

Stars on an Autumn Evening


I enjoy the autumn season of the year. It gives me a feeling of completion of the hot, muggy summer being replaced with cooler, dryer air. Living in Central Texas, we love the change in colors of Spanish oak trees and the falling of leaves in preparation for winter. I actually enjoy raking oak leaves in the fall. I feel autumn is the season to enjoy bounty and success.

Liking astronomy, the dryer air and lower humidity make the season much more amenable to using telescopes to look at planets close to our sun. I enjoy looking at the sky on a clear evening and picking out our sister planets that are part of the Milky Way. Remembering their distance from our sun is Challenge #1. Remembering their distance from earth is Challenge #2. I also enjoy looking for other solar systems beyond the Milky Way and guessing at their distances from Earth.

Manny Chavez

Tilling the Soil

—Inspired by Edward Hopper’s painting “Pennsylvania Coal Town”


Tilling the soil
preparing the flower bed
on the side yard
The man works
to add some beauty
to his yard
His hands tightly grip
the tools of his labor

Arthur Mike McMahon


Journey Through Time

9 Aug

Pooja was born in the winter, a fact that guides her exploration in this haiku sequence. Each poem assigns a signature sonic quality to a season, allowing the reader to move through a full year of silence and echo. The imaginative qualities of these poems open up spaces for reflection, experience, and humor as Pooja gives us a forecast for the seasons yet to come.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Haiku Series

Beautiful crystals,
memories drift leaf by leaf,
cold, dead, brisk, damp blow.

Someone screwed-in rain,
purple majesty mountains,
sunny meadow glow.

Hot, sizzling, zzzz,
bacon burgers taste my mouth.
Hot air surrounds me.

Shady and chilly,
leaves fall in many piles,
partly cloudy skies.

Pooka Kulkarni
5th grade

Portals of Color

26 Aug

Mary Oliver best explains the job of the poet in her poem “The Summer Day.” She writes, “I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.”

As I write this, I have eight tabs open on my web browser. I understand all too well the impossibility of undivided attention. But I am grateful to Badgerdog and to the talented writers in my workshop at the Austin International School this summer for honoring the art of paying attention. The poems that follow are meditations on color. And the descriptions are so vivid and imaginative, so specific, that it’s clear they come from the minds of writers who are watching the world closely and with great care.

Cory MacPherson
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



The calm, turquoise color
sneaks and hides.
In the ocean, it turns to sea green.
It accompanies the fish,
making their scales glow.
It hides in the turtles’ shells.
It shelters in the coral.

Small robin’s eggs,
covered in this beautiful blue.
Under the trees, the robin’s tree,
is the pond and the river,
holding shades of turquoise
in the water.
December’s birthstone
is colored this peaceful color,

Angie Hu


Purple, My Color

Purple is my color.
In my dreams,
buildings are purple,
people are purple,
the sky is purple.

Royal purple,
perpetual purple,
pale purple,
deep purple.

Purple blooms.
It shines in a flower,
glows from a lamp.
It spreads from the carpet
to the walls.

Purple is my color.

Amber Xiao


Pop Tart Orange-Palooza

A jetpack across the sky
steps like an orange baby
and, there and there, a trespasser
shows like a big restless budge.
Small planes full of orange bananas
are moored against the bright sun
and, like an orange piece of paper,
the thin air hangs along the border.
The orange light begins to fade
and shutter from the magic elks
and at me shines the pale yellow Thames,
lies like air of deserted Christmas
for the one and all orange.

Adrian Rincon


Whatever Color Symphony

A great, red shrimp in the ocean,
darting around the murky water.
A school of red fish swim by,
not daring to go any closer.

Dark blood oozes out of the soldier’s wound,
seeping across his ashen skin like the tears dripping down his face,
as cries of red rage and fury erupt around him.
There is nothing else to do but wait in the pool.

As the red maple leaves fall in the fall,
they drift and drape over the city like pity.
It gives the pace a more mature feel,
but also can be childish, like the colorful leaf piles children make.

Maxim Gao


Dark Purple Symphony

Dark purple is a color of mystery
It is a color of books I read
It has a trail of fate through history
It reminds me of freshly picked grapes
Or the color of a stain on someone’s cape
Dark purple leaves a trail of doubt
On an acai berry bush that is just a sprout
It is the beauty of a purple flower
Or the amount of blueberries eaten in one hour
Dark purple can be a marker in a box
It can be the color of fleece-knitted socks
Dark purple is an occasional color of the setting sun
It can be a color on a map of a journal just begun

Manav Lund


Whipped Mint

Whipped mint is a shade of blue
But it is also green
The extra to your birthday cake
The scent of minty gum
The glossy surface to your bedroom wall
The color of the Seven Seas
A delicious lollipop, lemon, and blueberry
The cloudless sky
The break of dawn
The careful color
Painting the world with hope and happiness
When you look out the window
The minty fog comes
The music flowing
The world blossoming

Kevin Han


Green Composition

Clovers bloom in various shapes
St. Patrick must have loved these clovers
The leprechaun was a friend of Patrick’s
And the gold lets the leprechaun

Shadowy jade gleaming in light
Why is green so bright
Green is a sensation needed to feel
Clovers like this most likely congeal

Swimming in lakes makes you look green
There are beans that are called green beans
If you look outside the leaves will glow
And if you’re a master you can make a bow

Down on the ground you’ll see some green grass
Up in the treetops you’ll see some macaws
Sometimes in galleries you’ll see green glass
I hope you will all see the color green

Trevor Yu



They look like coconut
groves. The green matches
the swamp grass
like the color. They both look
identical. Maybe there
is a slight difference in the colors.
But the names don’t
match their colors because
coconuts are a lighter
green color. I don’t
get why they added “grove.”
Maybe to make it darker.
Swamp grass matches its name
really well because swamps
are mostly filled with sea plants.

Samee Kamal


Blue Symphony

In a clear blue sky, there isn’t a cloud to be seen,
so the blue dolphins frolics in the waves
and a blue-furred cat stalks a mat.
A big, blue butterfly flutters onto my nose.
And I sneeze.
The new girl walks to school, a blue ribbon in her hair,
wearing a blue bracelet.
At school, we each get a blue pencil
and we study the blue oceans on the map.
On picture day, we take lots of photos
with a blue background.
Today I left my water bottle on the playground.
Help me find it; it’s blue.
And I’m writing on the blue
lines of this notebook.

Jessamine Qu



Like a whale in the sea,
blue is like the big blue
sky we see every day.
The blue crayon you color your life with,
the clear blue water disturbed
by boats racing across it,
like the blue sparkles in the
make-up of dancers.
The blue-gray dolphin splashing happily,
like pen ink creating magical blue words,
like a mohawk of a blue jay.

Isabella Clark


Red Symphony

A beautiful red Porsche on the highway
A bright red glow from the sun
The beauty of a sunset
Red lava bubbling up in caves
The red lizard blending in with the leaves
The beautiful red things are musical

Liam McDonald

The Gold Medal-Winning Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Panda Writers with Pretty Pencils

25 Jun

Like a banner, I carry with me Wallace Stevens’ idea that “poetry is the gaiety (joy) of language.” The pure act of speech is an exhilarating thing, even when the subject or mood is grim, difficult, or sorrowful. This special group of eleven third- and fourth-grade Badgerdog summer campers at The Girls’ School of Austin came out firing their confetti cannons, as this selection of work from camp demonstrates. And goodness, they never did cease. The work you are sure to lose yourself in here, whether happy or sad, whether real or made-up, was created with the spark of joy that can only come from the creation of the written word. I’ll step back now for you to enjoy their awesome stories and poems.

Tyler Gobble
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Golden Giant

Once, a kid found a humongous giant in a forest.
He wasn’t mean. He was kind.
The giant gave him gold.
The giant said, “Use this gold and buy whatever you wish.”
The kid stayed with the giant for three nights.
The kid’s mother worried where he was.
On the fourth night, he came back.
The mom was very glad.

Nico Campanell



The oldest panda steals all the bamboo.
The weirdest panda gets glasses then turns orange.
The purple panda puts make-up on with the pink panda.
One mama panda turns into the most over-protective panda.
All of the pandas are happy.

Mannat Ahluwalia

My Dad Is My Hero

One day me and my Dad went to a place with big rocks.
It had a sheet of rock for the floor.
There was a cliff there.
We needed to get across to the other side.
When we were walking, I lost my balance
and almost fell off the cliff.
Luckily, my dad saved me.
My dad has slicked back hair and shimmering, light blue eyes.
Also, we needed to get across to get back home.

Julia Klima


How To Sneak Candy

  1. Act normal. Maybe if you have pets, go into the pantry. Call out to Mom or Dad, “I’m going to feed the [whatever pet you have].” Or knock something down and shout, “Something fell in the pantry. I’m going to pick it up.”
  2. Walk into the pantry, grab the candy, and make some noise. Not too much, because then it’s obvious that you’re trying to fake it. But move stuff around. And if you’re feeding the dogs or animals, actually get the food and feed them.
  3. Get out. But first, find some place to hide the candy in your sock or shoe, in a pocket, but somewhere. And fast. Now make a quick exit and act normal.
  4. Eat. Find a secret place to eat, but do it fast. Stop by a mirror or sink on the way out. But make sure there’s nothing on your shirt or face or hair. Go back out and act normal.

Sofia Davis

Eleven Ways to See the Sun

  1. When I wake up, you smile at me
    with orange, fiery rays.
  2. You come with grace and shine your light
    wherever it is needed.
  3. You see all — the vast plains and
    raging dragons, the moon, too.
  4. You tell us your adventures,
    to Paris, France, and all.
  5. You come and meet the dragon
    of the moon and say goodbye to him.
  6. Because you are light and he is
    dark, you don’t see him often.
  7. I cry to thee,
    “O dragon of the sun, why not come out and
    greet us for the day?”
  8. But so he does and comes to be affray.
    He cries, “Good be all, and have a happy day!”
  9. We shout, “Goodbye!”
    and he dives into the sun.
  10. “Farewell you all, and have a good night!”
    he says as he sinks below the horizon.
  11. “The sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun,”
    we mutter as darkness falls over us.

Evelyn Constant


Seven Ways to Look at a Dragon

Among the caves of Mount Everest,
you lodge happily, blowing and puffing death
to man.

You look for dinner amongst China,
but, what ho?! You steam with rage as
we go to the cellars and shake with fear.

Your 15 minds outsmart man, but we
outsmart you.

Dragon plus man : same.
Dragon plus woman : same.

Your vivid color of rich red and gold
shows your fierce soul.

When you see a faint light, f you
contain the goodness of a saint, add fire
and warmth to a poor freezing family.

Do you have a family of your own?
Do you care for a child with a heart of gold?
Why do you turn to evil and munch the flesh of man?
Be good!

Lucky Cantu

My Crazy Meadow

I live in a meadow where
there are crazy things to do,
books filling the bushes, toys stacked
to the sky, clothes organized
into a rainbow, pillows stuffed into flower beds,
edibles overflowing the kitchen bushes,
fountains of
hot chocolate, lemonade and milk,
people of candy: jellies, chocolate
and mints.
Slides for transportation, slides that lead
oceans, underground, and to different
Blankets woven out of
stars, radiating with
Sometimes we just lean
against the trunk of a
tree and let the fresh air
calm us.

Ha-Yeon Jeon


Why Kangaroo

Kangaroo, why do
you like to hop
so high then

Can you run
in the hot sun?
You look around and

Why can you hop with
such speed? It’s like
you don’t need to

You don’t need to
run. You can just have

Why do you just have
fun in the sun as
you hop and

Callia Haines

Noisy Roosters

Rooster! Rooster! Noisy Rooster!
On the wood fence of a farmer’s barn,
what daring person could stop you
from crowing so loudly?

Why crow, why not talk?
Your crow is ever so loud.
Stop crowing, if you please.
I’d rather look at the clouds.

What do you eat?
Do you eat worms that slide?
Or do you eat bugs that fly?

Rooster! Rooster! Noisy Rooster!
On the wood fence of a farmer’s barn,
What daring person could stop you
from crowing so loudly?

Amy Xu


Dog in a Net

On the last day of school, when all the awards were passed out, I got the Charlie award! The Charlie award was an award for the kindest person in the class.

When I came home with the Charlie award, my parents were stunned. Their mouths dropped and their eyes widened. Since the Charlie award was a golden figure of a dog, they got me a dog. The dog was three months old. it was white and smelled like flowers. The dog’s hair was as soft as cotton. This dog could do amazing tricks for a three-month-old.

But I didn’t know that doing wonderful tricks could be a bad thing. My mom bought me a wonderful cookie for taking care of the dog. It had rainbow icing and smelled so good, my mouth watered every time I saw the bag. Just after I had made and eaten a grilled cheese sandwich, the dog took my precious cookie. But the good thing was that it was in a bag, so no slobber could get on my great cookie. I had to think fast. Then an idea came to me: a net.

The next idea was a line of paper clips connected. It was easier than I thought. It looked like half a necklace. It took me about ten minutes to build the net. I was impressed with myself, then I thought, “Less thinking, more… uh, um…”

Just then, the dog raced by. He was coming one last time, and then I put the net up. I put a bone into the net. The trap was set.

The dog immediately dropped the cookie bag and raced towards the net. After it was in the net and the bone had fallen, I said, “Thank you, I will be on my way.” After five minutes, I released the dog and the dog learned never to steal stuff. That was a relief.

Kayla Patel

Koala the Mighty King

Koala King, how do you sleep?
Do you dream, or do you gleam?

Koala King, if you eat, then why
don’t you eat raw meat?

Do you shake or wiggle when you sleep?
Koala Koala, why do you sleep so much?

Koala King, why don’t you play
and nibble Shipley’s donuts?

Koala King, why are you gray?
Can’t you be pink or yellow?

Koala King, Koala King, can you
help me paint my house?

Grace Schlegel

Collaboration Poems


The Craziness of this World!

You saw a unicorn trotting by,
and you rode a pink fluffy unicorn at
the Carnival of Monsters. I saw that you had
a book about reading animals.
I walked over and asked you, “Why
do you have a mustache?”
She said, “I don’t,” and stood up to
go buy a present of balloons.
I walked over to Mr. Bob and yelled at his
pink hair madly, and walked away
sadly. I hopped onto the Elmo Kiddie roller coaster and
was depressed as an old, rusty book.
So, I got off and rode Mr. Bob’s pink hair to the
field of sassy talking flowers.
They yakked at me, like an angry cat.
I grabbed them up and cooked them.
They were so angry, they
yelled their hair off.
I burned my hands and screeched like an old hawk.
You walked away as sadly as a soldier who lost
his underwear. I walked up to you and said,
“Why do I have a pink haircut like
a clown’s wig?” He said, “That’s you,” and walked
away as the sad grass cried and made an
apple. I sneezed and my hair
flew off in a pink bubble. Confused, I
slapped myself 100,000,000,000 times and
drank 100 gallons of water like an
elephant. I was satisfied, so I
happily sang la, lo, la, loo, la, loo.
A couple hobos heard me and
angrily threw you down the
sour. As I fell, I smelled
a salty, sad watermelon.
It ate me and then
I turned into a depressed
turtle and lived sadly ever after in the watermelon’s stomach.

Kayla Patel and Evelyn Constant

You are Playing in the Beautiful Pool, Smiling Birds

Having fun and being happy,
you’re painting and being
grateful. Every morning, you make a bird
painting. You make it with the bird’s
wings out and soaring and being happy.
The happy bird flies to its family right
outside our window. As we glance at the birds,
they all start smiling.
As they smile and wave, we dance and sing.
As we dance and sing, the song gets stuck
in our head because it is “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

Grace Schlegel and Mannat Ahluwalia


I’m Excited

When I woke up, I
felt super excited
because I was going to
have a sleepover at my friend’s
house. If you could describe this
feeling in colors, it would be
hot pink. I am as excited as a
clown fish going to a dance party.
I feel like I am floating in
a bubble that’s heading towards
the white, lush, cotton candy
clouds. The wind is whispering and saying
excited… excited… excited. I’m so ecstatic.

Amy Xu and Sofia Davis

I Am Funny, So I Like Pickles.

I am so funny, so I like
yellow bananas. I
like Minecraft.
I hate yellow tomatoes because
they tickle.
I hate green strawberries.
Why do you hate green?
Because it looks
like nothing. Bad bugs
eat your skin. I like
pandas. Pandas are black.
They are also white. What do you
like? I like cute dogs.
I like black kittens who
like brown pickles.
I do.

Nico Campanell, Julia Klima, and Callia Haines



The first day I meet you,
I smile
and say hello.
You smile back and say,
“Nice to meet you.”
We realize we are both wearing
a shirt of pink and blue. We feel awkward,
so we go to the playground that has blue
slides and sky-colored swings
with red polka dots.
I thought you were as pretty
as the star-marked silk dress hanging in
the store window in the mall.
You are like a mist hanging in the sky by
the soft gray moon,
I thought. The next day, you brought
a silk hat dangling with precious jewels of all kinds.
It looked like a crown for royalty
at Buckingham Palace.
We didn’t say so, but we both thought
we’d be a good match,
so we sat with each other and soon told
each other embarrassing stories
and stared at the gold apple
that never comes closer.
We go plum picking and nap in the trees
happily. We dream
all the flowers dangling
with precious jewels and satin ribbons.
We will always
be friends.

Lucky Cantu and Ha-Yeon Jeon

In Good Standing with the Earth

22 Jun

Memories of family and friends contain hilarious, touching, and painful moments, and we often try to recall such scenes from our past with precision — who said what, what happened next, how it all turned out. But our memories of nature can be more encompassing and impressionistic — the feeling of an ocean breeze, the sense of awe when viewing a grandiose landscape, the stillness and peace of mind that comes when walking through the forrest.

This spring, Badgerdog had the pleasure of working with AGE of Central Texas to provide nature-inspired writing activities for a group experiencing early memory loss. While participants sometimes struggle to recall what happened earlier in the week, or bring to mind important life events, their experiences in the natural world left powerful, lasting sensations in the memories of their souls. These writers drew on those deep memories to tell stories from their past. We’re very excited to share them with you now, and to participate in the memories they’ve now captured permanently here.


Pine Trees

We left for the pine trees, looking for the beauty of the tall trees in the mountains. Sometimes, the trees swayed into the breeze; other times they were silently still. As I smelled the fragrant smells, I could hardly wait to touch them as we stood near the creek water that fed those high trees and their branches. I loved to see the stream pushing itself and moving along. Pine needles were falling and swaying. The trees swayed as I took great sniffs of the pines, the water running and gleaming as though it were ice glimmering with mirrors.

Marilyn Latting


Coral Reef

I was swimming in the Bahamas in July. The water was cool and the current pushed you around. The water was so clear you could see several hundred feet below.

We then swam out to the reef, and you could see and feel the surf pushing against you. When you swam over the edge, the ocean floor dropped hundreds of feet. Bubbles rose from our air tanks as we kicked hard with our fins to take us down deep into the water. The deeper we went, the colder it got. There were hundreds of fish of different colors. As we sank down into the water, we had to pop our ears to allow us to swim deeper.

Air bubbles soared to the surface, and it got progressively colder as we swam down the edge of the coral reef. The water got colder and colder and colder.

Charles Walker 


Beach Day in Galveston

When I was a young boy, my family lived in Texas City near the Texas Gulf Coast. There were three boys in my family. We all loved to go to Galveston and spend the day on the beach — lots of sand, wind, sun, and water! We would put up our tent once dad picked a spot. We would spend the night, build a fire, swim, and be full of joy at the beach. Somehow, we got sleep and were ready to begin the day all over again the next morning.

Art Cunningham



I’m on the beach in Hawaii.
The sand is white and warm.
The wind is blowing cool and soft.
The sandy beach is full of people in swim suits.
Kids are making a sandcastle.
Old people are lying on a towels drinking cool drinks.
The girls are putting on sunscreen.

Keith Peco



I was walking on the seashore and viewed a round, flat object. Upon closer examination, I discovered that it was a seashell. Probably old, like maybe a century or so. One could imagine many different kinds of ecosystems it inhabited.

Kelly Meyer


Getting My Driver’s License with Bobbie

Bobbie and I chose Saturday morning as a good time to renew my driver’s license. It had been a three-hour wait the time before. How glad I was that Bobbie had come along this time. We created some games with great input from Bobbie. Bobbie was always creative and the driver’s license was completed in short order. Bobbie had a great morning. However, a speeding car extinguished her life afterwards. Poor Bobbie.

Fred Lucas



I’m walking on the beach in the Bahamas and spot a shell that’s larger than the others I’ve collected. I’m wondering if it is a conch shell, having eaten conch at a restaurant. I think about what lived inside the shell and how far it travelled to end up on this table in front of me. This shell is beautiful, pink inside, and still has some sand in it. Isn’t it wonderful how this shell can live forever on a shelf?

Betty Oertel 


The Seashell

The seashell ­­­
was washed up on the sand last night.
It wasn’t there yesterday –
the gradual movement of the water
had moved that shell over many years
with the help of Mother Nature
to a space for me to enjoy.

The rain must have helped
clean off the sand.

While I was looking at the shell,
it floated this way and that,
depending which way the current moved.

I may have been dreaming, but I swear
I was walking in the dark
and the sea pushed the shell to me.

Bill Britton

Ms. Terri’s Five Brilliant Minds

16 Jun

They gathered in the late afternoon each week to see what creativity still lingered after a long day at school. And there it was! From their fertile minds, the young writers in this group created color poems and fantastic fiction they imagined through art on postcards. The five students, working very well together, took turns leading the walk through the lovely nature trails at the Austin International School. There, the writers recorded the mysterious holes in trees or “grass waiting, just waiting for spring.” Musical chair writing resulted in President Teddy Roosevelt coming to stop a party where a muddy pig and rock star were dancing! Jumbo-mumbo crazy creatures, such as the Skyberry and the Rozzos of Randelli, came to life on paper—after all, if poet Jack Prelutsky can make them up, why can’t we? What an intelligent, fun, and very talented group of writers these are. Enjoy their creations!

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Singing Songs in Peace, Love, and Sadness

As a harp plays
on these sad days,
the Roman Empire is falling.
Blood dripping as they are calling
for help.

There is a place
where a speck of hope shall lace
the building closed with the sweet
smell of roses (though there is nothing to eat).

Shall a crying man and a woman singing
yet to bring
When yet to die in days?

Gabby George


The Butterfly

The small green butterfly makes no noise as it flutters to a flower to get some nectar near the leaves. With its small, thin, beady legs, it walks carefully to the middle of the flower. Its colors help camouflage it from predators.

It safely makes its journey to the bright red flower and back again to its butterfly family. The fragile butterfly will try not to brush any leaves, or fall while coming home.

Anay Gujrathi


You Are What You Eat

Sunkist was a dark brown Springer spaniel. He lived on an orange farm with his owner, Clementine. Every day Sunkist went down to the orange grove to check on the fruit. He knew he wasn’t allowed to, but sometimes he ate them.

One summer, tragedy struck! There was a bad drought and a lot of the trees died. No one wanted to buy oranges from the farm, even though some of the orange trees were still alive and producing good fruit.

“What we need is a better advertisement,” said Clementine.

The next morning, Sunkist went to the grove and ate as many oranges as possible. Soon, instead of dark brown, he was a bright, glowing orange. Suddenly, everybody wanted to come to the farm now that there was a glowing dog living on it! Even the rain wanted to come, and the drought ended.

Sunkist and Clementine were famous and even had a postcard with their photos on it.

Beatrice Rose


The Boat on the Water

The boat floated on the water. The water glistened in the sunlight. We were sailing along.

“Peace and quiet,” I said.

Just then, the boat leaned to one side. Water flooded over the side of the boat. Right when I thought we were doomed, the vessel splashed down again—with a hole in it! We were sinking, and the salty sea put a bad taste in my mouth. I felt the water close in over my head. (You know how I said earlier, “Right when I thought we were doomed?” Now, we really were doomed!)

I couldn’t see anything. For all I knew, I was dead. But then my head poked up from underneath the water, so I knew I wasn’t. I could smell the fresh air. Hmmm… This didn’t seem like Mississippi.

Brrr! Antarctica? Mississippi to Antarctica in thirty seconds? Impossible! Maybe a portal?

“Hello,” said a voice.

I slowly turned around and asked in shock, “Is that the Party Penguin?”

Ethan Scott

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The Party

Today my cousins and I had a party! We were allowed to do whatever we wanted, and got to wear purple t-shirts. Isabelle came to the celebration, as well as Harbarrah, a rock star. He was singing and rocking out to an awesome tune. The Muddy Pig was oinking during the song.

Our guests watched a movie and ate cheese pizza while they played Minecraft. It was a special episode called “The Diamond Minecraft Mod Showcase.” When the movie and game finished, President Teddy Roosevelt walked in and screamed, “Stop this party!!”

Everyone softly whispered, “Let’s have this party tomorrow,” and headed home to go to sleep.

Vedant Sangani

The Strangest Things Happen

3 Apr

Each year in our Spring Break writing workshops, we meet a handful of precocious young writers who’ve given up part of their vacation to imagine, create, and funnel their unique thoughts onto the page. Today we’re excited to feature Andrew Li, a second-grader with a circus of an imagination. His poem explores how fantastical (and absurd and smelly!) our dreams can be. But also how playful and wondrous.


Funny Dream

Last night as I was sleeping, 
I dreamed I found a hippo in my butt,
and it bit my insides. 

Last night as I was sleeping, 
I dreamed I drank a monkey in my armpits,
which ooo-ooo, aaa-aaa was trying to find a way out. 

Last night as I was sleeping, 
I dreamed I exploded a rhino in my foot, 
and he poked his horn against my toenail. 

Last night as I was sleeping, 
I dreamed I caught a giant banana in my bellybutton,
which attracted 1,000 monkeys to come play on my belly.

Andrew Li, 2nd grade, Canyon Creek Elementary